Clarification Of Tennessee’s “Constitutional Carry” Law

Photo Credit: Clinger Holsters / CC

Published June 30, 2021

By John Harris [Tennessee Firearms Association] – 

In the next week, there will be many social media posts about Tennessee’s new permitless carry law. Many of those may promote the idea that it is no longer a crime to carry a handgun in Tennessee because of Constitutional Carry. That assertion is wrong. 

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

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Tennessee’s new “permitless carry” law, which some inaccurately refer to as “constitutional carry”, does NOT eliminate the criminal charge in Tennessee for carrying a firearm with the intent to go armed. Consider these points: 
• The new “permitless carry” is not true constitutional carry. True constitutional carry requires the repeal of an existing law that makes it a crime for anyone to carry a firearm with the “intent to go armed”. The Governor’s law does not do this. 
• The new “permitless carry” law retained the statute that makes it a crime for law abiding individuals to carry a firearm for personal safety. See, TCA 39-17-1307(a). 
• The new “permitless carry” law is only a qualified exception to the crime of carrying a handgun with the intent to go armed. TCA 39-17-1307(g) 
• The new “permitless carry” law does not apply to everyone who can legally purchase or possess a handgun. It has at least 7 conditions that must be met in order to be eligible for the individual to rely on it as an exception to a criminal charge. 
• The new “permitless carry” law creates “traps” that can result in those who rely on it being charged with crimes. For example, an individual who has a permit can carry in a public park, in a campground or on a greenway. However, someone relying on the “permitless carry” law would likely be committing a crime for going in those same places. 

 The Tennessee Firearms Association recommends that those who want to carry a handgun in Tennessee get the Tennessee enhanced handgun permit.  

That permit provides the broadest capacity to carry in Tennessee under current law, it provides the most options on how to carry in Tennessee, it provides defenses that are not available under the new “permitless carry” law and it provides the greatest degree of acceptance by other states if you travel. 

You can get more details in the TFA’s detailed analysis of this new law here.

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About the Author:

John Harris is the Executive Director of The Tennessee Firearms Association. You can contact TFA here. You can join TFA here.

9 thoughts on “Clarification Of Tennessee’s “Constitutional Carry” Law

  • June 30, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    Just another bunch of anti-constitutional rhetoric to make people think that the RINO Governor and other so called ” conservatives ” have done something right for a change just to garner votes from ignorant citizens . Obviously they are hiding behind a bunch of ” smoke and mirrors” . In effect we still DO NOT HAVE CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY ; that’s just a big lie , but what else should we expect from the RINOs in the Tennessee State Government ? What they are enforcing now is blatantly still UNCONSTITUTIONAL . They us words like ” Constitutional Carry ” to cover their cowardice to do what is right and still allow the Deep State the ability to make citizens political prisoners if they exercise their constitutional right to bear arms without the right to be infringed upon.

    • June 30, 2021 at 11:13 pm

      Get the enhanced, conceal carry permit and problem solved! The education is beneficial and to be honest a person without the training is a danger to himself and others when carrying a weapon. Yes we need to be able to protect ourselves and we already have that ability to do so through the “castle law” which is applicable at our home, our work place, etc. Choosing to blow someone away in order to protect ourself shouldn’t be taken lightly. There have been some sad situations where an innocent was killed due to too fast of a decision to shoot. I can think of three deaths right now and the person killed was not invading for ill intent. Easy access to guns is not good for any state. My brother was murdered and the person who had the gun should never have been allowed to have one in his possession. A background check could have revealed his battle with depression. The murderer was a friend my brother had saved from suicide a few years earlier only to have him turn the gun and kill my brother in anger before he killed himself. A background check won’t stop all killers, but even a decrease in emotionally disturbed having easy access to guns would save some lives. Too late for my brother but maybe not too late for the next person. I believe strongly in the Constitution and the Second Amendment. I have taken the classes to be educated and prepared on how and when to use deadly force to protect myself, a loved one, or someone in danger of losing their life to an assailant. I think this change in TN will give a false sense of protection, as well as cost lives. The actions of the mentally disturbed who slip through the cracks of the back ground check for a gun purchase, could end up being the reason for your worst day ever.

    • July 1, 2021 at 9:46 am

      This “law” is worth less then the paper it was printed on. Gov. Lee and those who voted and supported this have to go.

  • June 30, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    A complete disgrace.

  • July 1, 2021 at 2:41 am

    I agree with poster Fred Edens. It seems to be a bunch of fluff to confuse the average citizen and possibly create situations where that citizen can be charged with a crime, have his/her weapons confiscated, and possibly….(I’m not very trusting)….create a situation where the citizen would have his/her right to own and carry a gun in future be curtailed or eliminated completely. What’s the use of the law if they still suggest you get a permit to be on the safe side?

  • July 1, 2021 at 5:23 am


  • July 1, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Glad you stepped up John. If you recall we had this discussion over a year ago when TN made national headlines when Lee hijacked a bill that did not have a caption clause even close to what that bill was all about. I didn’t even think it would stand up to a court challenge—much less get so much support when it is so restrictive. This bill is a fake and a facade for the RINOS and the lefty control freaks! We must amend this bill next session before people get too used to the mantra of BS being slung out of the capital by the RINOS who are using this as cover for to tell everyone they supported open carry. If the executive and legislative branches do not have the “huevos” to pass pass Vermont Carry like Arizona and others, they we need to replace every one of them next general election. Why don’t you run for Governor? You are a “tough guy”! Keep up the great work!

  • July 1, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    This is the same kind of law double talk they do in NJ, if you don’t read the details and understand it you are usually screwed.
    Was hoping to get away from this political BS in TN but it seems most politicians are of the same ilk.

    Retired Law Enforcement.

  • September 21, 2021 at 7:05 am

    In what world does this article clarify anything? After reading this, I have no more idea of what the law is than I did before. Good grief.


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